When will recruitment leave its comfort zone ?


It’s a well-known fact that nowadays recruiters are dominating the internet superhighway with complete content overload. And when I say dominate I mean in a way that a dungeon mistress would be proud of – overbearing, painful and ultimately bringing out bouts of guilt in the poor recipient who decided to endure it.

In that big siloed chatroom, you’ll be able to soak up all sorts of guff ranging from ninja sourcing skills (come on, what age are these authors ?), the endless agency v. in-house debate, waves of talent technology that look all a bit same-y (when the average corporate Joe can only name you Taleo and Kennexa), voodoo-like selection algorithms that nobody can really explain to a client (beyond a shrug of the shoulders), employment branding (that promise to make your organisation look sexy to the disloyal band of millenials) and lastly job board aggregators that erode the work you’ve done to articulate your brand in the first place. On the peripheries are a bunch of lunatics who believe data analytics has matured beyond endless dirty data problems that nobody will admit to and the complete loony left who believe something virtuous such as candidate experience is worth pursuing but in fact are treated like Donald Trump views Mexicans amongst the mainstream recruitment media. In fact a whole bunch of relatively simplistic transactional recruitment guff that takes a push of a finger or the making of a candidate persona.

Now here’s the conundrum. What fails to grab little or any airtime amongst the recruitment glitterati is the vital issue of Strategic Workforce Planning and it’s tumbleweed sister Adaptive Workplace Strategies. The very thing that helps determine requirements beyond an arbitrary headcount plan has about as much allure as a company balance sheet at a HR night out. Think about it :

Right people – Yeah. Full marks for the recruitment branding, attracting, and selection competences. In some organisations it has also been know to bring them closer to their HR colleagues, which is nice. Full marks.

Right location – This is not the same as the low hanging fruit of opening a new office in Munich but leading the debate based on some clear talent economics as much as the size of the market. Recruitment less comfortable and recruitment waiting for the order to come through ?

Right time – This is not the same as the time to hire debate nor some low level analytics based on some historical trend analysis either.

Right cost and shape – I’m going to bundle these together and I’m pushing the boundaries beyond the balance sheet view I’ve seen for years of having typically permanent employees (with all the increasingly false premise built in) and contingent (still being categorized as being too wide or the place where the RPO takes over). As permanent continues to whither, contingent needs segmented into partnership, borrowed, freelance and open source to name a few. Not because the organization dictates it but because the world of work is changing it. Adapt or die.

I see little by way of the next technology wave stepping into this space as the problems remains too organization-centric to scale effectively as a market product with any level of margin (and who says the technologists are only in it to cash in on a potential IPO ?).

If everything else recruitment continues to focus on (from sourcing to selection) are mere transactions along the way, why are we so reluctant to take a lead in the debate and do recruiters accept that it will continue to push the function further onto the peripheries of the organization ? At the moment it’s a fragmented discussion bar a few notable consultants trying to push the agenda.

Another quick scan of a typical recruiter group discussion online suggests that cold calling, rejecting candidates and a ‘how to use (insert obscure sourcing tech) remain the safe domain of debate. The workplace is going to get a hell of a lot more complex in the years ahead if half the megatrends come true. My take is that this generation of recruitment are happy to remain in the comfort zone of transaction and seem happy to hand over the hard thinking to anyone but them. Maybe a new generation needs to change that, not constrained to crappy dialogue about silos, the ineffectiveness of HR and why they should be owned by someone else.

An opportunity exists to raise the bar. Will anyone take it ? Until next time.


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