Whereas some EREans take offense to all the Group emails associated with Shally’s flowchart, Russ’ Googling, Jennie’s giggling, or Barry’s surveying (add your favorite ad infinitum thread here) – and I suspect most of the banal dialogue between people (which I am clearly not a part of – yeah, right) – I use all the threads as gauges for the future (and of the present) state of affairs of our profession.
As a result of so many asking for Shally’s flowchart (it brings to mind the post-Thanksgiving reports of people arriving for 3:30 AM store openings and front-page pictures of shoppers being trampled by others in search of $300 computers or 50% off the Britney Spears Guide to Wedded Bliss), all the questions regarding Googling, and the astronomic success of Ask Maureen (notice how I have withheld The Art of War thread), I’m beginning to get an uneasy almost queasy feeling.
I’m concerned about a profession grounded in the dependence on tools versus the ability to think strategically. You know the adage one becomes so good at using a hammer everything begins to look like a nail? That’s what recruiting is becoming – the reliance on techniques and tools over strategic thinking and content knowledge. Whatever became of strategic planning before the search? Sure you cobble together a job description, some target companies, and a few websites on which to post the job but what I’m talking about is how your targets really think and act – what drives them, where they go for emotional and intellectual replenishment, etc.
If you really read the threads, you’ll probably come to the realization that many recruiters Google for resumes before they’ve profiled their target; it’s like choosing window treatments before the architect has designed the house. Boolean searching has become for many recruiters one of only two arrows in the quiver of recruiting weapons (the other is the reliance on job boards). Buzzwords have become the recruiter’s Cliff Notes and Google has become the report on which one’s knowledge is graded. This doesn’t necessarily spell doom for the profession but it does cover-up what I see is the superficiality of the recruiter’s knowledge about the job and the target candidate and for some reason, the propensity to leap before they look.
Look at all the threads asking for help – nearly all responses send the person to job posting websites. That’s ludicrous because most employees are NOT looking for jobs and are NOT posting their resumes. You have to think and act like them if you want to find them. But getting into their heads requires a level of content or industry knowledge that many recruiters have not yet developed. It’s like buying a gun and ammunition because you want to protect yourself – but before you know which gun you should buy, how to shoot it, and how to take care of it.
It’s not that Googling or posting on job boards or asking for the same flowchart that everyone else wants is a bad thing (it’s not…although a vision of lemmings does come to mind) but it masks the real challenges to recruiting. If your goal is to uncover that one secret resume that everyone else has somehow missed, forget it – someone’s most likely been there already.
A sage teacher, in scolding my 5th/6th class, screamed at us, “Do you believe that that thinking causes mind pollution?” An unerring reliance on tools and techniques can easily mask shortcomings in strategic and outside-the-box thinking. However, if you learn to ask the questions that will enable you truly understand the way the ideal candidate thinks and acts, what motivates them, what activities they’re most likely to be involved with, even what websites they visit for fun – and continue to augment your content knowledge rather than bolster your buzzwords, you’ll find the talent.