Part 1: Creating Experiences that Connect

This is a special three-part series as I’ve too much to say for one post on this topic…

I’ve been lucky enough to have watched modern recruiting and recruitment marketing grow up. Everything from running the first jobs-related banner ad, to posting jobs on Usenet groups, to launching a MySpace campaign for recruiting in 2005, I’ve had a front row seat in the war for talent. In some ways, I was a general, in others, a correspondent, and no matter what capacity, what I witness is now over. And this war for talent, here’s the truth: nobody won. It was costly. Frankly, it was a fool’s errand. You see, this war drove us further and further away from the personal relationships that once were. Because there was once a blacksmith who needed an apprentice, so, he would talk to his friends at church and see who was interested. Then it got a little less personal with help wanted signs, take a look at this little artifact, we started advertising for jobs in the 1600s.

Fast forward a few millennia, and the 90s brought us all this technology. We could reach any human on planet earth with an internet connection. We could generate massive numbers of resumes. Then, when we did, we had nowhere to put them. Lotus Notes was really not a great place to store all of those resumes we got emailed to us from Online Career Center. So, we made Applicant Tracking Systems to house this new influx of people who wanted our jobs. We created new solutions for our new problems. Our new interconnectedness. And things got a LOT worse. They got worse because we just kept plugging holes with our fingers, and gum and tape.

Now, make no mistake, I don’t think the solution is less technology, I actually think the solution is about putting the focus on the other side of the battle field, on our perceived opponent. Because what happened in the last 20 years should have given us a real pause. With the rise of technology, systems, and inter-connectedness, it delivered a double-edged sword. We now had access to more talent than ever before. But, now they had more access to unparalleled opportunity than ever before. Dream of moving across the country to start a new life, just search for jobs in your dream location. It’s not like they had to go to the library and look at newspapers from their dream cities. This shift in inter-connectedness provided our audience endless options. They could start shopping us. They could start jump ship much easier. Because think about “the war for talent” from the talent’s point of view; they didn’t want a war, they just want to do something meaningful to do for a nice paycheck, a pension and health insurance, that’s not war, that’s a nice life. They don’t want war, they wanted a nice life.

It’s time we re-evaluate the way we think about candidates and talent. It’s time to acknowledge we have a symbiotic relationship with talent. We need their skills to build our next great product or offering, they need our companies to create their next great career achievement. We need to stop thinking about the war, because we all lost, and start acknowledging the realities of the talent revolution.

Our audience has more choices than ever. As does every single person in this room. We have agency like never before. We can find opportunities in nearly any field, in almost any location at 3 in the morning. We can freelance, we can hustle, we can work remote, we can work in an office, we can job share. We can start our own companies that focus on what we actually love (winkwink) it’s endless, and honestly, it’s pretty exhausting. Because when you can do anything, you can suffer from a paralysis of choice. There is nothing harder than filling a blank sheet of paper when your topic can be literally anything. The options top talent have is dizzying. And frankly, at this time, everything is starting to look exactly the same for them. Every company is a best place to work. Every company has a team first, and innovation culture. The industry has even coined a phase that I’ll co-opt today. Employer Bland.

In fact LinkedIn listed to top two barriers for talent when it comes to applying for a job.

1. Doesn’t know what the job really is.
2. Doesn’t know what it’s really like to work there.

They’re stuck. Un-sticking them is going to take some serious thought, reflection, and change. But, we can do this. It’s going to be hard, but worth it.