The Recruiting Revolution….will not be televised

gil scott heronI recently had the pleasure of attending the ‘future of resourcing’ event in foggy London Town, hosted by the beautifully toned people at Annapurna HR and compered by the magnificent and highly flamboyant Dee Dee Doke, a bundle of dramatic energy under a head of hair Kate Bush in her prime would have been proud of.

So not only was I invited but they put me on a panel. It was no ordinary panel. It was a panel full of resourcing expert types……..and me. I was excited and honoured as I entered the Andaz Hotel and skulled a bottle of red wine to settle my nerves.  Sitting close by was Paul Maxin, a proverbial giant amongst the profession who panicked me into thinking the event was fancy dress when he turned up as Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street 🙂

If you don’t believe I was there then have a look at the associated ‘released for christmas’ DVD of the event and fast forward to 7.48 to see me slur my way through a subject that failed to catch fire on the night amongst the assembled head nodding masses of besuited recruiting types in front of us….and someone from an RPO 🙂  –  namely how does the fervent zeal for the future of resourcing get realised without our own internal talent revolution required to deliver it and drag us out of a backwaters typified too often by todays underwhelming contribution.

So whilst it was safe to say the panel were great, what you didn’t see on the HRTN television clip was the x-rated aftermath where the sharp minds assembled opposite the panel obsessed during the Q&A on such defining talent subjects as writing rejection letters to job hunting time wasters, berating the organisers for a lack of diversity on the panel or sending flirty glances to the marketing function in the hope they get moved there. I left dejected that the talent outcomes and boundless opportunities for valued work ahead of us in the world of work were being left in the hands of a generation of Resourcing people content with avoiding the ‘gorillas in the room’ or polishing their own egos at dimly lit venues across the capital ? These people were drawn from established blue chips across the country, from Brighton to Birmingham they came but the spark for real debate didn’t catch fire sadly as we skirted painlessly into safe, stale and uncontroversial fair.

So if we are being constantly told that as we move out of ‘turnaround’ into ‘growth’ (that’s what the Government tell us so it must be true)  and we need a talent revolution, then the war committee wasn’t to be found at the Andaz hotel that night. Who is going to help mobilise us and help us make use of the clever technologies to drive everything from obliterating unconscious bias in the assessment process to maximising the use of gamification to providing value in the emerging Talent Analytics big data fad. Who is going to help us drive greater linkages between business and talent strategies.  There are countless examples of enlightened organisations and individuals out there doing their thing but none of these people are willing to pay me yet for these glowing endorsements and until they do they’ll remain hidden but exist they do. Oh yes they do. Yet sadly for me too few of them seemed to be at the Andaz hotel that fateful night.

So as we re-engineer our value proposition at the core of our success we need less old-style recruiters and recruitment leads and more people with a capability and flair for crunching and presenting data, understanding trends and patterns, driving effective assessment, utilising technology to drive value, putting up investment cases based on value and not efficiency, drawing down marketing and sales core skills and with an Emotional Intelligence that allows them to engage with authenticity. Now I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound like the type of people who work the recruitment system today. That generation fell into the profession over a low barrier to entry, have lived in ecosystems obsessed with cost and efficiency, recruit distressed hires in a manner that involves checking the pulse of an active candidate and submitting them to a client through a mortar bomb of asembled CVs. They are surrounded by redundant cost-led RPOs and agencies still proliferate to take advantage of an organisations’ inability to own and drive the candidate experience and talent agenda effectively.

Where are the people who will drive the future of resourcing coming from ? Who is willing to invest in the new skillset ? Who is helping to drive a value-based business agenda in-house that makes this a rewarding and exciting place to work ? Currently and for a long time recruitment has been bloody boring and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you know who they are, shout their names from a rooftop and get their profile pushed up to give us all hope that an emerging talent base is arriving to lead our recruitment revolution and take the place of this failed generation and their outdated mindsets. Am I the only one who thinks their time is up ?

And finally, as we all know, contrary to the views of Annapurna TV, when it arrives the revolution will not be televised. Take it away :

“ The revolution will not be brought to you by an RPO,

 In 4 parts without commercial negotiation.

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development

will not star Peter Cheese and Aunt Gardiner or Financial Services and FTSE  HR.

The revolution will not give your ATS sex appeal.

The revolution will not come from your agencies.

The revolution will not make you look five pounds

 Thinner, because The revolution will not be televised, recruiter.

 There will be no pictures of recruiters hunting down

 Talent on the instant replay.

 There will be no pictures of bad HR being

Run out of town on a compromise deal and a brand new process.

 There will be no slow motion or still life of

A headhunter strolling through the city in a red, black and

 Green pinstripe that he had been saving

 For just the right occasion.

The revolution will not be televised.

 There will be no highlights on Annapurna’s HRTN  News

 and no pictures of hairy arsed recruiters making their calls.

The revolution will not be right back after a corporate PR message

The revolution will not go better with Coke.

 The revolution will not fight the germs that cause bad breath.

 The revolution WILL put you in the driver’s seat.

 The revolution will not be televised,

WILL not be televised, WILL NOT BE TELEVISED.

The revolution will be no re-run recruiters;

The revolution will be live.

Apologies Gil but I just couldn’t resist 🙂

Until next time.  Throw the bums out.


24 thoughts on “The Recruiting Revolution….will not be televised

    • That diet is paying off sir…..ahhhh Gil lived in such simpler times and “the revolution might be captured on someone’s iphone and then later uploaded” didn’t have the same ring about it 🙂

  1. The only way I can see a recruitment revolution happening is if 50% of all agency recruiters could magically be transported into an inhouse recruitment role for 6 months, during which they had to take calls and/or try to fill jobs through the other 50%.

    On returning to their agency job, I’m pretty sure they’d all re-evaluate what it is they’re actually selling and massively overhaul how they did their job.

    Obviously, that’s not going to happen, but if it could, it would definitely be worth televising.

    • Thanks Mitch. I’ve seen worse ideas go to straight to reality TV. Can we make the HR agency recruiters eat kangoroo’s testicles whilst locked in a room playing the hits of the lighthouse family on repeat 🙂

      On a serious note the transition to the ‘new world’ looks massive and I don’t see how the gap gets closed on skills and aptitude. I guess the half-empty in me sees another generation of badly executed recruitment delivery as the result rather than going for some ambition.

      • It will probably never get noticeably better because recruitment, like refuse collection, is a dirty job that most people don’t like doing.

        I think in some ways the rise of the inhouse model is a cause for optimism because at least there we have recruiters who have some real knowledge of the hiring company and actually have to fill jobs rather than cherry pick those that are easiest to fill.

        On the downside, the inhouse sector is driving down recruiter earnings – both via the meagre salaries they pay and the earning potential their existence has taken away from agency recruiters – and that’s bad news in terms of attracting better quality people into the sector.

        Great blog as always, Barry.

      • Good points Mitch and I do worry about this dumbing down. I feel like screaming at the conveyer belt that gave us the person who fell into agency recruitment who gets trained (or not) with an emphasis on sales, before falling into RPO with an emphasis on cost (and looking down on agency heritage) who may go in-house (that looks down on both) and who is asked to lose their toolkit to date as its viewed negatively. We create at the end of it this confused and ineffective mongrel incapable of marrying up their journey to date as an effective recruiter. We are now meant to superimpose on top of that a new set of rules and technologies and I just dont see where we join the dots at the moment. Needing a revolution is my obvious cry for help that a new order is needed.

  2. There are those bloggers that write most inane rubbish, those that repeat themselves, those that skim a subject and those that are forgotten tomorrow. Of all I have read throughout 2013, and even beating some your own earlier blogs Barry this is by far the best blog post I have read for a very long time, – huge compliments. Not only does it cut right to the very core of matters, speaking the truth, but it does so from a perspective of deep insight, deep acknowledgement and deep analysis of what is truly the problem and where there is a gap, – and a huge (gap) one if you ask me. I have today had the rare experience of meeting an agency recruiter that out of the hundreds ever met, displayed a thorough understanding of a l l that goes on, is current and that drives the whole aspect of HR and recruitment, a true rarity and I dare put my head on the blog and say that he is likely one single person out of on average 500 or 1000 that has that insight and knowledge. Not one single subject be it macro level or micro level in relation to talent acquisition was unfamiliar to him, he simply knew them all, the people, the trends, the solutions. Knowledge insight and revolution only come if we seek it, if we have a quest for it, if we work on it and if we care and are not indifferent. 90% of people a r e indifferent and that is why everything is moving at a snails pace, why HR most is sleepwalking, why not strategic and at board level, why talent acquisition (widely speaking strategic through to operational, agency, RPO or inhouse) is still for the most part ‘managing’ at best, but far from attempting to make a real difference, ensure best practices and utilisation of latest and most efficient.effective tools, channels and solutions. Some will argue (and I will agree) that people most, companies/organisations will only change as and when they are forced to do so, whether through feeling it in the botttom line, and/or through legislation. Look at the banking/finance sector, only single thing that will make sure that the financial crisis does not repeat itself is a very strong amount of legislation and threat of fines and/or punishment, – they will for sure not do anything out of own will. The same goes for recruitment/talent acquisition, any changes there will purely come from being forced to, otherwise not. So is the world of man (human beings) that it takes extraordinary measures to see something on a larger scale change, why alas there is a long long way to go yet.

    • Jacob – Firstly you’ve made me blush with that opening and as always I thank you for reading, taking the interest and responding in such a constructive light. The gap is a huge one and only by recognising that and aligning some tough actions behind the right ambitions will we see some traction (he says innocently). You should call out the person you met today and I think he/she should be held up as impressive under the spotlight. God knows we need the role models and the victories all over the park. I guess organisations get the recruitment / HR functions they deserve and for those interested from our profession about driving good business outcomes we should be gravitating to forming a bit of an alliance of enlightened folk. The great and good of the Resourcing world in London Town that night talked palpable pish for most of the night and trundled off home that they had exhaled some furthr hot air. What a depressing realisation that was for me but a nadir we have to recognise our these folk believe they hold the keys to our future.

      • Barry, the folks needed are out there, but alas can be counted in their hundreds rather than what is needed thousands or tens of thousands. You mention in your original post the giant of Paul Maxin, and knowing Paul, I could not agree more with you, however Paul is one of a maximum 20 in the UK or perhaps Europe at that calibre. I meet other good people at Reconverse and I know that the companies of respective winners of FIRM awards and inhouserecruitmentawards count hundreds of good people who know their stuff. As for agents, well I guarantee you that I for most of them could sit talking HR/recruitment stuff for 30 minutes and they would have no clue whatsoever what I was talking about, who I was referring to, most are simply a lost cause. What bugs me the most and really upset me is that we are on a macro scale talking about country/Europe competitiveness, about the ability to be sustainable and to compete against a world that is becoming fiercer and more challenging in any possible respect. If we apply a mediocre (and let’s face it that is what apply in 2/3 of companies in the UK) attitude then the whole things becomes and stays mediocre, and leave us more vulnerable to become part of or owned by companies and countries that have a whole different work/life balance ethic and one that I guarantee you 95% of the population would not find amusing. We h a v e for the sake of our own survival long term to seriously up the ante, or it will be game over and someone else setting the agenda. Scaremongering, well perhaps, but rather that than be unpleasantly surprised is what I say.

  3. Mr Flack. Spot on……speaking as a person who came to recruitment through HR (and did a year’s national service as a head-hunter – grim) it never ceases to baffle me – why is the most important activity in the whole HR armoury treated with such contempt by HR (which is treated with such contempt by the business). Get recruitment right and your business will begin to sing. This requires vision (some of the panel members would not tick that box and some would), passion (to fight the internal battles and to lead the troops), the ability to drive through worthwhile change and the ability to develop talent. Which is in short supply everywhere…….

    Now, where do you want me to sign? And where is the first march taking place? Or is that a bit too bourgeois? Is this more street anarchy?

    PS – all you lovely rec people, don’t think marketing are going to treat you any better.

    • Julia – Thanks as always. I guess we have to take this out of the tea rooms of the cotswolds and into the harsh damp recruiter-laden streets of the metropolis. Seriously we need great initiatives like Interimity to work and blossom to disrupt the nonsense that still goes on.

  4. Crikey. It’s not like the world of recruitment has gone downhill. It was always mediocre! I was at that event, and was not surprised by the (mostly) short-sighted tactical tone of the “debate”. We need to get better at analysis, start employing from a more diverse pool (ie not just agency/in-house/out-house recruiters), and be more persuasive about raising standards and quality of sourcing, selection and on-boarding with our “leaders” so they take their Investment In People mantra literally. There! Said it! Now, why didn’t I make point at the event – oh yes….too sozzled!

    “You see that man in the wrinkled suit
    He done damn near blown his cool to the bottle
    He was a recruiter helpin’ companies along
    If they wasn’t too far gone in their problems
    But defenders of the dollar eagle said,
    “What you doin, man, ain’t legal”

    Sho nuff Gil – The Bottle

    • what have I created…it’s turned into a recruiter rap musical 🙂 The utter dross that we have both collectively worked with out there have skillsets that only their mothers could love 🙂 but the recruiter magazine has arrived and there are game changers on the front of the edition – 4 look decidedly like the legacy generation but 1 at least has a denim short on and that pleases me no end that fashion (at least) has arrived within recruitment.

  5. I tell you what you have started Barry and that is speaking and expressing the raw truth, and a truth that is long overdue being screamed out loud and wide. Sadly though it will and is read by those that know and acknowledge that something is wrong and need changing (or at least a serious upgrade) Julia’s sign up and march will as popular as it may be amongst ‘Barry truth followers’ only count those that already know and subscribe to change, and not where it r e a l l y matters amongst the thousands that are in charge and able to make a difference, and that is not just a pity, it is for the sake of sustainability and survival tragic.

  6. @Nick do you have a contribution to the debate ? You are clearly not a fan of the blog or the style but that’s your right. For the record I gave 3 examples from the event in the blog and I called out the issue of talent deficit in recruitment to take us forward ? Do you disagree ?

  7. I too was at the debate and found it all a little amusing – and focused on large employers and ‘white collar’ UK based recruitment. If there is one thing we must realise is that one size does not fit all (and its the reason why resourcing is the most important aspect of any HR strategy). The needs of a marketing company, where working from home is an option, are completely different from those of an NHS trust who need to hire surgeons. The difference needs to be recognised otherwise we get into an endless cycle of debate about right or wrong recruitment processes whereas the real story needs recruiters to move from being reactive (fill a role) to proactive (delivering a strategic workforce plan) where each role the organisation has now or is predicted to need going forward is tested against the market – both internal and external – and sourcing plans developed (training departments are simply part of the talent delivery process, are they not?). According to the engineering institutes one third of all UK chartered engineers are within 5 years of the traditional retirement age. Five years is not enough time to train new chartered engineers so what have we heard from the recruitment industry – virtually nothing, I guess we are all waiting for the vacancy requisitions to land on our desks! We must be more proactive, more data savvy, more business focused – lets worry less about time to hire and cost per hire and become more concerned the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed for the future and lets tell organisations what they need rather than waiting to be asked.

    • Adrian – An absolutely cracking post and I thank you for sharing that. Massive talent conundrums upon us but bigCos are invariably obsessed about the size of their ATS or the beauty of the careers page models – totally missing the point. The relevance of the agenda to your organisation means you can’t continue to shut out true expertise in the strategic debate or you’ll end up with the butt end of the market’s available people.

  8. @Adrian, interesting points you are making, to which I 100% agree. So in respect to the subject of retiring workforce, lack of skill set in years to come, demographic challenges, the so called Talent Economics (cracking book by Gyan Nagpal of that title, get it, its very good) are we then not widening the debate to what companies/organisations do themselves to prepare for the coming years? That is undoubtedly important and part of the bigger picture, however with an at best mediocre recruitment industry that are reactive and have £ and $ as their goal (making it or saving it) rather than business advisory and informed discussions we will never overcome the challenges facing us ahead. Problem as I see it apart from what else written here is ‘wilful ignorance’ and reluctance/inability by HRD’s/HRBP’s and others to really challenge their leaders and have the foresight and understanding of what is facing businesses in years ahead. For me this spell waste, waste of opportunity and waste of time and much else, and waste that I frankly don’t think we can afford.

  9. One of the best Recruitment Directors I am aware of is Kevin Blair of and I have never even spoken to him, save for one email exchange years ago. I am aware of him from speaking to many who have worked for him, I’ve tried to take people out of his teams (without success). He built a lot of Oracles recruitment function before doing the same with 2 years ago. I have never come across anyone who’s team has spoken so highly of their leader. He does not blog, I don’t think he has a Twitter account (I can’t find one anyway) and he keeps a fairly low profile but look at his LinkedIn account, the recommendations from 31 people who have worked for him speak volumes, as does the legacy he built at Oracle who were building external talent pipelines before anyone else that I’m aware of, maybe GE. Barry, you should try and get in touch with him at some point, I am sure he will give you a refreshing view and faith that someone out there is doing it right.

    • Thanks Tim. Much appreciated. There are a lot of good guys (and gals) away from the public eye doing great stuff, and who don’t turn up at these events waxing nonsense. Will follow up.

  10. @Tim, this is not about the 2-5% that are out there doing a great job, carrying the torch, best practice, understanding and adhering to markets, landscape etc. but the remaining (and to be conservative and allow a positive outlook) the at least 60% that are totally and utterly stuck in yesteryear. We all know that there are outstanding folks around that do great things, but overall the picture is grim and does not show any signs of adopting, understanding and utilising latest thought leadership, – and that is where the problem is.

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