Strategic Recruitment?!!

Posted on March 7, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

This is the 2nd part in a series of 3 blogs regarding the excellent Social Recruiting ‘unconference’ Trulondon 3 and was originally introduced in my recent blog The Good, The Bad & The ugly.

The Bad!

I was really quite excited to attend the track entitled ‘Recruiters are not strategic’ at TruLondon 3, not especially because of the subject matter but more because of the two track leaders!

Laurie & Theo (identity hidden SAS style!) in action

The HRD (Theo)

Theo is one of the most entertaining and thought provoking bloggers in the recruiting and HR world. He has a real talent for the written word and I strongly encourage you to read his blog My Hell is Other People. Theo is not his real name, in fact his identity is a closely guarded secret. This does rather go against the grain of what social media is about (authenticity, visibility & personal branding) and I used to have an issue with this but the more I read Theo’s material, the more I understood why he had to remain anonymous (read it and you will see what I mean!). Theo has recently retired from blogging which is a great shame but you can still read his ‘back catalogue’ at the above link.

Laurie Ruettiman

Laurie is best known for writing the ‘Punk Rock HR’ blog which attracted a huge following in her homeland (US) and across the world. She now pens The Cynical Girl blog . Her style is not dissimilar to Theo’s – forthright, challenging, often rude and always entertaining. Laurie really doesn’t hold back and has some very strong views on HR & recruiting matters, many of them very insightful and I normally find myself nodding in agreement when engrossed in her material.

Given my admiration for both track leaders I was very excited to be in attendance and made sure I grabbed my seat early – which turned out to be a bad move! I was not the only one to do this and the room was packed with standing room only for those who arrived later – they however, turned out to be the lucky ones!

The title of this track was ‘Recruiters are not strategic’ A strange title I thought because it was stating the obvious but knowing Theo & Laurie I was expecting they would come up with a clever twist on this theme and chair an interesting session – How wrong could I be!

They both proceeded to demonstrate why they thought recruitment was not strategic in their usual hard hitting styles and clearly thought that this was a damaging blow to the ego of the audience (many being Recruiters).

The audience were clearly irritated but not by the ‘strategic’ argument but by the lack of any argument! Quite rightly Lisa Scales quickly asked Theo to define what they meant by strategic but he refused to answer stating ‘Oh not that old chestnut’ (actually he said something much more explicit, chestnuts were never mentioned!). Our resident serial tweeter Glenn Le Santo (who is a journalist by background) then looked up the dictionary definition of the word strategic, which was somewhat missing the point – correct definitions of words in business often don’t apply! In my experience strategic decisions in business normally refer to those decisions of high importance that significantly effect the long and short term direction of the business – right?

So where is the argument? Recruitment decisions can be part of a strategy and may well effect the direction of the strategy but they are clearly not strategic in themselves. Who is stating otherwise?

The track soon deteriorated into a debate about semantics, at which point I really wanted to leave (as is clearly demonstrated in the picture below!) but I was trapped in the middle of a crowd and had to sit it out.

Thats me in the middle looking to escape!

Now if the debate had been about whether recruitment was important then that would have been a much better subject.

Recruitment can be hugely important to the success of a business, sometimes more important than decision makers in business realise. When I was a recruiter I was often shocked by how recruitment was ‘delegated’ to an HR department who were largely a group of administrators who often proceeded to ‘tick boxes’ when preselecting candidates therefore missing out on individuals who could make an important contribution to the ‘strategy’ of the business. This is clearly not always the case and many HR professionals add real value to the selection process but too often I found them lacking.

Given that Laurie & Theo are both HR professionals I can perhaps see why they didn’t wish the debate to proceed down those lines…..or maybe they do?…..bring it on!

I wouldn’t normally be so harsh in my criticism but these guys can take it (they can certainly give it out anyway) and it is only because I admire them so much that I found this track so disappointing.

So lets forget this ‘strategic’ rubbish and debate ‘importance’. Is recruitment taken seriously enough in your company or by your clients?


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4 Responses to “Strategic Recruitment?!!”

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Bang on Mark, I tweeted something similar at the time. In fact, I think your photo was taken from the space I managed to vacate just after Glenn’s interjection!

Good one Mark

I was there, stuck at the back.

I think they were trying to be provocative but the track was ill-conceived as you point out.

Which was a pity as the two leaders are obviously smart and charismatic and the room was full of intelligent people.

But all wasted, sad to say.

Interesting, Mark. I wasn’t there of course, but I wish I was – I love a good argument as you know. As to whether recruitment is taken seriously by companies or clients, the answer is: “no-brainer” – no. Sweeping generalisation I know, but from spending the last 30 years or so involved with it in one form or another, I am still amazed at how little time, effort and resources are afforded to ‘getting it right’. You shouldn’t have to spend any time convincing an employer about the benefits of CBI or psychometrics or assessment centres or using a good recruitment agency in order to get it right. But with many, you might as well bash your head against a brick wall. But I know I’m preaching to the converted, and I apologise for the rant – but you did ask! Carry on!

Good to see another in the collection of HR strategy versus Theo and Laurie. Two more recent posts on this one can be seen here:
and here
Sitting next to Glenn, I was too waiting for a point of this track. No point was made there and then however. Nevertheless as most of the time with Theo, while the whole discussion itself was lacking argument, echo of this session is still present. So while many of us will find it time wasting to even think about it, I remember many posts from TheHRD and Laurie leading to debates which revealed before unexplored waters of HR thinking. Your post Mark, is spot on in terms of how disappointing this session was at #truLondon, yet you and many others have had an urge to express themselves in reflection to that track. I think Theo and Laurie (maybe unintentionally this time) once again did us a favour.
Good post Mark.

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