“AI is coming (or here??) and it’s going to take your job.”

“People buy people.”

“Personal brand is where it’s at.”

 

It’s all relative

All of the above are the current conversation points in recruitment.

All of them are relevant, and all of them are true.

I learned the ropes at a big agency. Which I loved by the way, purely based on them alone – not because me and cookie cutters do well. But now I work for myself. My whole recruitment world has changed, as I’ve created websites, logos, social media profiles and blogs, and engaged with people being ‘the face’ of my own business, no frills and unleashed. It’s vastly different.

People aren’t gonna work with me now cos my business has been around for 30 years and it’s a name they’ve heard of. They’re doing it for a bunch of different reasons.

So, as we speed through what should be a rapidly changing and evolving landscape at recruitment’s typically slow pace, let me express my own meandering opinion on the above points, and how they all connect.

 

We won’t need you guys soon, cos AI

‘AI is coming’, though it’s actually already here with Chat Bots, more advanced ATSs and video interviewing software.

“Recruiters are shit, we’re gonna be able to replicate the whole experience (depending on who you talk to) without bias, with efficient communication, more effective screening processes and the recruitment industry as we know it will just die. Enjoy it while you can, cos eventually we won’t need you.”

Wrong.

Some recruiters are shit, some agencies are shit. The rest is happening already and will continue to develop. There will be a loss of jobs over time, no doubt – in fact The Undercover Recruiter predicts that AI will replace 16% of jobs over the next 10 years. It is going to transform the work we do by taking away those repetitive time-consuming tasks, and allow us to do what we all say we want to be doing or claim to be good at – engaging with people.

It’ll allow us to spend more time talking to people. Getting to know our candidates and clients better. We’ll be able to work our magic on social recruiting – and doing what AI will never do, developing strong relationships with people. Allowing us to market ourselves as individuals harder, and blowing that divide between the good, the bad and the ugly to pieces. We won’t have less work to do. The 84% of us left standing will be strengthening our skills and brand, providing a more efficient service to everyone, and hopefully seeing more work from it.

Because…

 

People buy people

I know for a fact there are times I’ve been the less qualified/experienced/appropriate recruiter in the scenario, yet my clients still chose me to work with. Even before I was in recruitment this was the case.

Why is that?

Because in my case (generally), I’m likeable, I don’t bullshit people (to my detriment on occasion), and they trust that I’ll do what I say I will to the best of my ability. They know I’m a safe pair of hands to represent their brand and reputation in the market.

They buy into me personally, not my company logo or fake grassed office and branded car. That was the case when I worked for the largest recruitment agency in NZ, and it’s still the same now when I work for myself.

So, it doesn’t matter how much tech you invest in, in terms of AI. If your training for your consultants and your own attraction, hiring, onboarding and retention strategies are shit, then there’s a strong chance that in that 16%, or whatever the number is beyond that – your staff will be on the list. Your EVP matters. Define what that is to find and keep the good ones. It’s not going to be about you. It’s going to  be very much about them.

 

So, what does this all have to do with personal brand?

Recruitment is an over saturated, highly competitive market. When AI takes a firm hold and all the generic parts are being replicated and generating the same results, what are you going to do to ensure your recruiters are visible and growing your business?

I’ll offer you a suggestion.

Let them off the f*cking leash a bit.

Get someone in (unless your in house marketing people are capable) and TRAIN them to understand personal branding, social recruiting and the strength it will give them – and you.

Trust them. Encourage them, offer guidance and clarify boundaries, but give them the confidence to be themselves to build those relationships. Let potential clients and candidates see them for who they are. Because, like choosing any branded item or any business to partner with or be represented by, they will choose the ones they feel most affiliation with.

The one with the purple hair, the one who posts memes on social media, the one who tells it how it is, or the one who comes across as a sweet and caring eco warrior.

The ten a penny guy with the black and white corporate headshot on LinkedIn, with the corporate blurb pasted from your website who happens to look after the type of roles they need, isn’t going to cut it. Your logo and historic processes aren’t going to cut it, cos everyone will have access to the same. It won’t be about you, it’ll be about them.

Don’t get me wrong, some people DO want that old school, familiar approach. They like the security it brings, but it needs to be genuine – cos there’s already an apparent lack of trust in the process. Canned personality and behaviours don’t work, and the resulting relationships won’t be as strong. If you have some special people in your team, let them be seen for who they are.

 

Little Giants

In conclusion, us littlies can’t do anything but be ourselves to survive. Our faces already are our business, our brand is our heart, and every word we utter, and action we take is what’s likely to drive someone to come to us over the big names. And believe me, it’s already happening.

I’ve been through writing copy as though ‘I’ am a ‘we’, scared that the size of my business will hinder my success. But I don’t need to. We all just need to stop pretending we’re something we’re not and realise that there are a LOT of f*cking people out there who are crying out for the process to be different to what they’ve experienced in the past. To deal with just an actual person, who has the time and inclination to give a shit, and not a corporate clone.

The little guys already have to work differently to be seen and get themselves known. We’re already providing value in having the ability and desire to be the ‘consultants’ we claim to be. We’re willing and able to be flexible, and as the perceived underdog, we’ll work that little bit smarter, fight that little bit harder and with a lot more heart. By the time these changes in tech start sweeping the board more than they already have, we’re gonna be miles ahead of the curve. We’re being seen for the little giants we are.

So, to the big guys, AI is here. But it’s not going to be what kills you.

You are.