(December 26, 2006)
After years, we finally met Steve Levy this fall. For some reason, we had him
pictured as a shortish older fellow with really big ears (It's probably the
impish quality in his writing). We were surprised to find a young energetic
noticeably bald guy. At least we got the impish ears right.
That's the way it is with people you read online.
You develop these incredible, usually inaccurate mental maps and decide you know
the guy. Usually, nothing is farther from the truth than an image you create
with limited feedback. So it was with Mr. Levy.
likely here, Levy's voice
is biting, sarcastic and very, very clear. It's a must read. As is usually the
case in great writing, having an opinion matters. Levy knows how to have one.
Here's his take on 2006:
been no different that any other year in recruiting - really, the more
things change the more they stay the same. Recruiting has always been like
Fiddler on the Roof.
New technology comes and goes, productivity increases then decreases then
increases - it's like the building of roadways around New York City by
in the mid-1900s: traffic increased, more roadways were built, these
roadways became clogged again, build another road, etc. The basic premise
here is still moving from point A to point B as expeditiously, comfortably
and safely as possible. Just like recruiting - finding the best person for
the opportunity as expeditiously, comfortably and safely as possible. How
has 2006 changed this?
Not at all.
the passive candidate.
In 1998, he wrote about an HR Manager from Chicago getting
all worked up about recruiters peeling back URLs to find company directories
and finding passive jobseekers - she complained it was like stealing
someone's wallet right off a table. John snorted (yes, he snorts), "The
idea that recruiting so-called "passive candidates" is stealing sounds like
a deep rationalization for poor performance on a critical strategic task."
In 2006, more people became aware of how to identify and recruit the passive
candidate - not only the ones on the Deep Web but also those who can only be
reached through old-fashioned brick and mortar, pick-up-the-phone and
dial-and-smile. This is utterly fantastic - regardless of how one gets to
these people - the magnifying focus on the passive person is a best of 2006.
Ultimately those who can deep search and phone source will find themselves
at the top of the market while those who cannot...
Consider discussions on ethics.
Was there something in the water used by Starbucks in their coffee or
Coke/Pepsi in their soda? Was there a sudden infarction in one corner of the
Universe that mutated the genetic code of recruiters causing them to
suddenly feel guilty about recruiting people away from companies? The vocal
outburst by a few recruiters has been noticed by those who do not see a
problem in our industry - I think I may have been one of these people (lol).
If nothing else, I was certainly opinionated towards the got ethics?
debate at ERE San Diego. Ah, the halcyon days of ethics in
The issue is not so much the use of what some may consider to be unethical
techniques but is more so the pervasiveness of the problem. Whether you want
to believe it or not, no data exists proving that we have a problem in our
profession. I called my friend at the AESC
and asked about surveys that measured the breadth of "unethical behavior in
the executive retained industry...no data. All in all, an entire year of
discussion...but no data. My hope is that our industry does not develop an
industry wide code of conduct but rather promotes education to companies,
recruiters and candidates. Once educated, I strongly believe that market
forces would begin to weed out the "lesser" performers - especially given
the number of communication vehicles available for sharing such information.
As they say at Syms,
an educated consumer is our best
Consider the increase in the number of recruiting
Some good, some bizarre, some serious, some comical. But the sheer number of
blogs portends that many viewpoints will continue to be aired - and this is
a slam dunk for our profession. In 2006, recruiter-centric threads went
nose-to-nose with candidate-centric ones: The nexus of these two has
resulted in a mutual, "I never knew you felt this way" - as evidenced by the
number of mutual posts and comments (see Steven Rothberg's
CollegeRecruiter blogs and Jason Alba's
JibberJobber blog). This has been a slam dunk and education
for everyone. But what I'd like to see in 2007 are CEOs blogging about their
company's quest for talent - now this would be revolutionary.
Consider the escalation of staffing in SHRM.
No, I'm not kidding. There are still less than
20 EMA chapters and well over 500 general SHRM chapters in
North America - and far too many generalists still believe cost-per-hire is
a valuable performance metric for recruiting - yet when SHRM's LINE report
(leading indicators of national employment based out of
Rutgers University), finally took off in 2006, SHRM took a
quantum leap in the right direction. Please SHRM- more!
Consider the definition of an applicant.
Do we have to? Has any recent government ruling generated so many puzzled
looks by recruiters than the one issued by the
FAQs aside, did this ruling ever create a cottage industry
for our profession: Job boards, ATS', consultants – it was the recruiting
industry's version of Y2K.
Consider Radio Shack.
Trash 80 is now Trash 06. See? No one ever really learns –
companies and recruiters. And they won't in 2007. Incidents like
these just demonstrate that
Groundhog Day exists in Recruiting.
Consider Armed Forces Recruiting.
You think you have a problem because people don't know your company well and
your salary is at the 50th percentile? Try recruiting people to
join a service branch – especially a frontline one – when the media details
every death and injury each day. Yet the recruiters who sit in local
stations and become part of the community and try and educate people about
the benefits of being a soldier, a pilot or a seaman are cursed at, have
doors slammed in their faces, and are lied to every day. Despite this, 2006
proved to be a success for them in meeting their goals. I'm proud to be a
COI – Circle of Influence, someone who works with local recruiters to
identify and implement alternative forms of recruiting. And I'm a better
recruiter for it.
Naughty, naughty. And from the recruiting industry no less.
Now, where are their ethics???
that even consumer product companies are changing their ads to
reflect workers. We all know that Madison Avenue still
presents us as geezers, using likenesses for medical ads. Yet
there are changes - even I've-fallen-and-I-can't-get-up has gone
younger...need we even mention Viagra? What this portends - and I've
seen the move towards ads that accurately reflect their target audiences
- is that the hiring of older people will continue to grow as companies
view for workers who can help them generate greater revenues. So to the
younger recruiters out there - do you think you know me?
These are my major
happenings for 2006. What do they mean to most recruiters? Probably not too
much. Recruiting is still like politics where elections are won by shaking
hands and kissing babies. Technology may help remedy the administrative
quicksand that seems to be growing deeper but we still have to get out there
and press the flesh. So for 2007, why not stop using that job board for one
week, and take a stack of business cards, a pad of paper, and some pens down
to that coffee shop (I'd recommend
Starbucks) near where some companies are introduce yourself.