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The Evolution of Recruitment

I have to stop and remind myself sometimes that despite the fact that internet recruiting is no longer in it’s infancy there is still a large portion of the recruiting world with their hands over their ears hoping this noisy little revolution will go the way of the DeLorean sports car.

Typically we train people who have already made their initial steps to understanding how they can harness social media and other web technologies for recruitment while still doing all of the things offline that make them good recruiters, but today I spoke with someone who thinks it is a huge waste of time and that social media for recruitment is an unwelcome distraction. He used that wonderfully pessimistic phrase: “It will never take off”.

Needless to say, we disagreed, but he seemed to be like a Southern plantation owner adamant that his staffing needs were quite secure as the sound of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” could be heard in the distance.


Humans Resist Change.

This got me thinking about the human inclination to resist change. As an innate human trait, we feel safe and comfortable with the habitual, and change causes us stress and unease. No great revelation there I guess. There is a strong human urge to say “it will never take off”, and more often than not, the neigh-sayers get it right.

In the case of changes in the recruitment industry brought about by Internet Recruiting however, I think we can chalk one up for the optimists and say that it has not only taken off, but is in full flight!  That’s not to say we are ditching the baby with the bathwater. Most of the rules apply online as offline to being a good recruiter. You just get a brand new set of shiny tools to help you to find the best people for your jobs.

It’s actually less revolution and more about adapting to the world that we live in. Evolve or get left behind. Recruiters need to use the wealth of data online to make the best hiring decisions and find the people who’ll make an impact in their business.

I got to thinking about other recruitment methods that have developed in recent years and what can be learned from them. Here are a few of my favourites:

The X-FactorX-Factor

You have to love the genius of this show and others like it. Music promoters have a long history of recruiting band members for put together groups like the Monkees, Take That and Westlife. But as with contingency recruitment for every success there are 10 bands that never made it. The beauty of X Factor is that it made the search part of the product and the marketing and branding for the eventual winners. It is retained search for the music business. Here’s a good example of an industry under pressure re-looking at how it does business and blending different media to make money. Video might have killed the radio star but TV (whether we like these shows or not) is providing a new source of revenue and promotion for the record business.


I don’t think this has been cracked for the recruitment industry despite all of the referral systems available. There still seems to be a problem energising people to refer others for jobs. Crowdsourcing works really well whether you want a logo designed or your home computer issues solved. The world steps in and offers it’s advice (sometimes for free), yet referral fees in most companies don’t seem to offer sufficient incentive to engage staff to help in hiring. Any thoughts on why this is?


This is how Google have recruited us all to digitise old books and newspapers (don’t believe me? Check this out). Every time we identify those two blurred words on a captcha, we are helping to convert some old manuscript to a digital format. It would be nice to know what book you are working on each time. I am a paying customer for my email and storage, I am part of a target audience for their advertisers and now I even work for them, de-coding books! An inspired recruitment strategy!

The banks have us doing something similar as we utilise online banking. We are both customer and teller as we move our money around and pay for the privilege of doing what they used to employ employees to do.

Could something similar be applied to the recruitment industry? Maybe not exactly, but the exciting thing is in looking at a piece of work and seeing how you could tackle it differently using technology. The web and the vast array of human data available is not a threat to recruiters, but rather a huge opportunity which will see some old models die away and others rise up.  Just a thought, but Google received over 2 million CV’s last year. That is a lot of CVs to assess – don’t be surprised if you find your self somehow evaluating them in the near future through some stealth method!

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