Rob Ridout has over 25 years experience as a headhunter. In 2008 he published his book CVforLIfe - the ultimate career advice book. His career coaching business has flourished and now offers Career coaching,
Career Counselling and CV and resume writing services. He works with universities such as GIBS and Monash to offer some of the highest caliber career coaching.
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2018 Talent Salesman - Fact or Fiction?
Rob Ridout Career Coach CV Writer
2017 - The world changed. For talent around the world, the dream had come true...choice!
In the dark ages, we found our jobs in print newspapers. Recruiters and companies advertised their roles in alphabetical order on uncoated paper. We waited patiently every week for these large publications to release their staffing inserts.
The ultimate problem!
A single communicator (the recruiter) speaking to an audience who had no opportunity to speak back let alone ask questions. Just press the send button on the fax and hope for the best. That's right - the good old fax. (Another soon to be outlawed technology dinosaur)
This was the world where the headhunter reigned supreme, with the ability to find and sell their opportunities in a space where top talent indeed was “hard to find.” The golf course became the place to be seen - the ultimate hunting ground, the extended boardroom. Even the newspapers such as the Sunday times had teams of designers arranging pages, formatting headings, all targeting that ultimate job slot, the front page of the jobs section.(now reserved for parastatals and government)
Substantial placement fees soared, retainers, finders fees, upfront payments, joining fees - it was the headhunter's dream come true. The candidate - still no closer to having any control of their destiny just waiting for a call from that recruiter or headhunter.
Then it all changed...
Of course, it started with the internet, just when companies were starting to harness the power of the internet the job portal made its appearance. The ultimate space for the job seeker to find redemption for a bad career move or just for the sake of making more money.
The metamorphism would be dramatic and unexpected, so much so that even in 2017 we still do not understand the real impact of how our employment world has evolved and even more daunting is about to evolve. But how did this tremulous change occur and why do we still question its authenticity.( with only a mere portion of talent even using social media to sell themselves)
This was the replacement we were waiting for and thank goodness goodbye to the job section in print media. The flaw obviously... just another one-sided approach with big brother in charge. Recruiters and HR practitioners selling their roles on an internet platform to prospective candidates who waited patiently for the phone call or the ideal position to be loaded. There was, however, an introduction of choice for the candidate, just a small step forward from the newspaper ad. The candidate could apply online and search roles in bulk. The birth of choice and a little ray of hope for the proactive job finder. The seed was laid. A massive leap in a talent acquisition landscape that would lead to an unforeseeable event, the birth of the brand within the talent and employment world.
The career job portal, however, relied on two essential elements. A recruiter that had a job and a candidate who was looking for work...With the emphasis on “looking”… the applicant!!! What about the top talent who wanted to remain anonymous but still deep down waited for the call, which never came and the headhunter, the proactive knight in shining amour who had somehow lost their golf clubs somewhere in the vortex of the internet boom. Suddenly the world was turned upside down for the first time, Was the candidate, company, recruiters and job opportunity all linked? And what role did social media have to play in this very disorganised party of three?
The lights went on! The opportunity for the business network. That's right the old school golf course. But something seemed wrong almost as if there was a missing key. The talented just didn’t seem to have the ability to reach out, the power to create an impression without branding themselves as desperate. The answer was soon to be revealed.
The poor HR practitioner, a victim of their own problem.
Buts lets digress for a moment and consider what was happening outside of the candidate world. With all these technological changes an unexpected problem or should I say opportunity occurred. CEO’s started to realise that with shrinking profits and a looming recession recruitment costs seemed the obvious place to cut costs. Especially with this fantastic new technology platform - the internet. What savings could be made?
The HR practitioner was thrown into a world they had never imagined or even worse been trained for - a world of commercial complexity where the bottom line mattered and their job depended on making sure it happened at all costs. The hunter became the hunted, business leaders wanted answers. Find the best talent! At discounted rates! Whatever the costs, but with please spend no money.
The software developers answered, with silicon valley leading the charge, new software programmers started to conceptualise and develop platforms to manage internal recruitment processes and their solutions were elaborate and expensive. Large corporates ran into the storm head first trying desperately to quell the CEO’s wrath. There was a hidden and significant drawback, who managed all this smart new technology - the poor beleaguered HR practitioner? The problem remained. Engagement.
And of course, the answer was right in front of them - the combination of social media and this new business network thing everyone was talking about. But were HR practitioners ready to harness this monolith of an opportunity and use it to change the very core of the companies talent strategy? Company portals started springing up all over the place. Companies began engaging designers to create elaborate portals in their homesites with all the bells and whistles all designed to lure the best candidate. There’s was a but and a big one. In a country where the job portal ruled and joblessness was the norm applicants suddenly had an additional choice and they used it, in abundance. Suddenly the HR practitioner was now the recruitment administrator and they weren’t prepared. Shortlisted became long lists. Reams of paperwork creating an unexpected problem. And where was the internal automated, problem solving, process driven, all-encompassing business recruitment tool - nowhere to be seen of course. The business leader remained stubborn that costs had to be cut and the pressure remained. Something had to be done.
The beginning of the beginning
And then in 2002 it all changed, in Mountain View, California two entrepreneurs changed the world! The created a social media tool that would change the very nature of the old school business network. LinkedIn.
Now all parties had an opportunity to meet on equal ground- the candidate the company and the recruiter. All in one place and all rearing to go. LinkedIn altered the very definition of the word “candidate” no longer an applicant. Out with the old and in with the new. The job portal started to seem outdated.
The job seeker became the ultimate sales person with the ability to become their own sales manager, a headhunter if you will, with the ability to seek and sell at the same time. The flexibility to research their target companies. LinkedIn evolved of course with the numbers raising they opened the floodgate for companies to start adverting their jobs now talent could apply and not have their profiles exposed like the job portals. Would this spell disaster for the trustee job portal designer and what would the emerging mobile platform have to say about this massive market gap?
There needed to be balance in the force and it came in waves, Linkedin had introduced a new force in the universe something that was in the making for many years. The job portals had to respond, but it was muted and slow to innovate, companies now started to realise that their company job sites just did not have the right reach and in some cases had too much. The irony, of course, remains in place. How to harness the power of the company brand to attract the ultimate candidate...a question which is as yet unexplained. HR practitioners were however not going to take this lying down. Many companies now have very smartly outsourced their bulk recruitment to job portals redirecting candidates away from their online brands to generic sites with lists of roles.
Problem solved....or not? Companies even started hiring recruiters to recruit for their companies. And why not. Indoctrinate the recruiter with a dose of corporate values and hope for the best. The recruiter, of course, would realise the rouse and turn their backs on this very fragile love affair. Money, of course, remains the recruiter's ultimate playground of pleasure and why not?
The corporate brand - the ultimate recruiter
Is this the death of the corporate talent brand. The lost connection? Or has LinkedIn already identified this opportunity? With recruitment fees waining and companies using all these new an exciting formats to find staff, recruiters started becoming the blackberry of the talent landscape. Why not a change in the job description? Become the headhunter, of course, was the answer. New title new opportunity. Pick up the phone and headhunt the candidate, make an approach just like the good old days. Seems quite ironic actually.
All the while the technology advanced and so with it LinkedIn. New features blossomed and created even stronger more advanced search engine advances. These advances opened the door on the ability to provide and find information in the safety net the Linkedin platform.
The candidate had become their own sales manager with the ability to sell something they had never done their brand and even better they could decide by how much and when. Is LinkedIn setting up their platform to force the recruiter out of business? Of course not! As any business Linkedin sees the opportunity to make a profit - no surprise especially with their new owner Microsoft. LinkedIn however still had a problem - their members needed their information protected, so their trump card became the very element that needs the most attention - confidentiality.
In 2017 companies now have an arsenal of tools to solve their talent acquisition strategies and the candidate has a similar choice. All these strategies seem to negate the very essence of the talent process. The company brand. How do companies attract staff to their business brands and does it matter? Can Technology solve this problem too?
Not yet at least. Top talent move to brands that carry emotive value, companies who permeate our daily lives. Talent identifies with these brands as they see this brand name on their CV as being sexy and appealing. Is this something that can be sold over a social media platform?
Medium size companies have a problem, they can see the talent but cannot attract this talent to their businesses. How do they grow without solving this problem? The CEO now would need to re-think the role of the HR practitioner and then where to spend money on the whole employment and branding landscape.
The recruiter's job now needs to change, their ability to sell and create interest in growing brands, their ability to represent their client's leaders and businesses. The headhunter must become a company representative where they attract talent to their client's brands, sourcing well trained top talent from big brother - the perfect source of bored individuals just waiting to move into roles that make an actual difference. Suddenly the internal recruiter has been left behind. And of course, Linkedin is on the scene to help.
So what next?
The massive amount of data that LinkedIn has started to amass seems to have no bounds - with this information the recruiter has become the researcher ( back to the 80’s headhunting days) and can now start to research background information on candidates not found before.
The HR practitioner now may have a totally new role - that of company marketeer their mistakes are laid bare on the internet for everyone to see, bad hires are strewn across the web. Recruitment researchers and candidates can now find companies employees who have worked with companies creating a track record of previous hires and current staff. This information is a researchers dream come true and a nightmare for the new company brand ambassador.
Is this the rise of the commercialised HR practitioner?
Technology has indeed challenged the very essence of employment landscape. Whether you are a finding work or looking for candidates. Has LinkedIn started to solve the corporate culture talent brand issue? Not yet. LinkedIn has put little effort into the business section of their platform to date- could this be the next paradigm shift. The internalisation of the corporate brand selling to talent within the LinkedIn platform. Could this be the next iPhone X?
Tech companies continue to try to turn this industry on its head constantly looking to streamline the process of recruiting and brand presence focused on talent acquisition. The irony, of course, is that this article started with a description of the old school headhunter seems like we may have gone full circle after all. The jury is still out.
The bottom line - change is imminent and the participants have no choice but to roll with the punches. The candidate has, however, come up tops - they are a master of their destiny.
Rob assists his clients as a career coach and CV/Resume writer. His business CVforLife based in Johannesburg offers career coaching services and career as well as CV and resume writing services. #CareerCoach#CVwriter#ExecutiveCVwriter#Resumewriter#LinkedInwriter#EmployabilityFor more articles written by Rob visit his website.
Over the course of my 24 years as a headhunter, I’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates and also forwarded many candidates for many interviews with a diverse client base.
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