Like a long, lost sub-tribe of flagellating bedwetters, the world of recruitment has perennially been waiting, Moses sandals packed and ready, for someone to take them away from the unloved world of tyrannical HR rule. Whilst the constant has always been the dislike of their flaky kith and kin in the People world, there has a been a variety of chosen ones that has been called out over the years, with most recently top of the pops Marketing as the most desired destination for the average recruiter – and by god do we have too many average recruiters.
But I digress.
We all know that recent HR history has seen it make more u turns than a dodgy plumber – from protectors of welfare workers to storm troopers of management flexibility. Now in the big businesses it helped to create, it looks on, as the management teams demand more than efficiency, controls and subservience to thrive and survive. The recruitment teams are caught in the crossfire being asked to push PSLs, broken agency relationships, outsourcing inflexibility and cost to hire mantras when little of that delivers any true sustainable value in the changing world of work.
However, if recruitment thinks that leaving this behind to live in a land of marketing flim-flam will bring a change for the better then you are as daft as triggers brush. Marketing, with all its own legends and rituals, is equally riddled with imperfections and as the corporate pimp, its sole purpose is there to manipulate average Joe into a purchase they didn’t want to make. Marketing does not make you five pounds lighter or £1,000 richer, and for its survival at the mythical table of CEO greatness, sees no further in a business cycle than what’s in front of its nose. Now, not for a second am I throwing the baby out with the bathwater – marketing skillsets (which doesn’t include throwing corporate parties or picking partnerships) does signal a need to be more data driven and scientific (and I’d mark this better than HR but nowhere near as good as truly scientific disciplines). If this step change can be blended with the art of selling (and god forbid you ever ask a marketer to do that) that needs equally to make a renaissance in recruitment then the job’s a good un.
As pendulum swings towards marketing’s fabled flawless strengths, signs of over influence are there and should be challenged by all good, questioning and cynical recruitment teams. Here are 3 examples:
- The average talent (passive, active, untapped potential, unfundamentalist, environmentalist, gay, straight, left, free and in need of the right job in the right company at the right time and impossible to segment) does not wish to join talent communities for some fabled reasons that ‘ever since they were a young boy or girl they’ve only ever supported (insert some FTSE 50 or Fortune 500 company). Go search online for the ‘heartbroken talent community of Enron’. You’ll find that they don’t exist for the obvious reason that people don’t actually give a shit if brands / companies die. They want a job and an employer who treats them ‘well’. We just got to understand what well translates as for them.
- Social networks are still the place where the average person goes to chill out, escape the humdrum pressures of modern life, stalk an ex-girlfriend and watch an elephant urinate over its zookeeper. Conversations and the fabled brand advocacy is not taking place in the scale or volume that we are led to believe. For all the science that Marketers believe they bring to the party, much of it is still lacking validity and is guesswork and the data thrown at us about social is right up there telling us ‘what’ but not telling us ‘why’ because that just takes too much from the market research budget and eats into the ultimate margin of the product. When you are selling a career and not a commodity then the price for getting it wrong is not a credit note but a huge big hole of toxic mess in the middle of your organisation that needs carefully dealt with.
- Lastly, I blame marketers for selling us the myths of ‘generational blah blah blah’ with a disproportionate focus on milennials to the detriment of baby boomers who employment brand ‘experts’ associate phrases like ‘dying out’ and equating lots of reactive, conservative traits with. Worryingly this stuff gets regurgitated without much rightful cynicism or challenge amongst recruitment professionals. And you want more of this under the marketing functional ownership model?
Can we just stop right there. Taking the benefit of a wider lens to organizational issues is GOOD. Taking in the whole smoke and mirrors of Marketing-speak without perspective or fact is frankly CRAP and can I ask us to desist.
Whilst it is abundantly clear that self-flagellation is an endemic trait of HR and Talent people, the answer doesn’t lie in pitching our tent under the Marketing sky.
Until next time. Take no heroes, only inspiration. And never let your daughter marry a marketer.