When your recruitment strategy is Stalin!

Written by Theo Smith

Theo is a Welsh Wizard. After leaving his Celtic land he set out on a journey to help organisations attract more talent. This has included global executive search, RPO, in-house and recruitment marketing. He now talks on a wide variety of recruitment related subjects. He is also the podcast host for Neurodiversity – Eliminating Kryptonite & Enabling Superheroes

I’ve recently been reading ‘Young Stalin’ by Simon Sebag Montefiore. I didn’t plan to read it! We went away on holiday and there it was on the bookshelf in my parents holiday home (caravan). After my dad was is Denmark with an old friend, he spent time with his partners niece who is a relative of Stalin and she kindly shared some of her family history. So when he returned he looked further into her history through this book and that’s how I got my hands on it!

What’s that got to do with recruitment, talent acquisition or employer branding? Well it’s all life experience and I’ve been encapsulated by the human struggle and how early life experiences have a significant impact on the steps and actions you take in the future.

Now I’m no psychologist but I love a good story and here’s my creative look at a recruiters journey from a sales focused recruitment consultancy job to the challenging and complex world of in-house recruitment and beyond…

The Student

You came to recruitment from an unusual route. You fell into it guided by your interest and ability to communicate and influence others. Young and hungry it provided you with stability, reputation and respect.

You had ideas of making millions, changing the world, being the next Bill Gates!

But things are not quite as easy as you thought, you take a lot of hits and the world in which you live is not always easy for you. But you get back up, again and again. You’re resilient and you stick it out through the economic challenges and the cold and you see them through!

But there comes a time when the rigour of always chasing the next sale starts to catch up with you. You’re scarred, tired and wonder if you’re being heard anymore or just talking in an empty room. Those around you no longer inspire you and make you feel like you belong.

You step out of your four walls and seek a new adventure willing to take a risk and put yourself in a new and challenging environment.

The Poet

You bring fresh ideas and energy to your new world. You felt equipped to make the shift from your consultancy background to the dizzy heights of in-house recruitment management.

There is a melodic charm to your voice and poetry comes from every orifice, exclaiming the importance of listening to and being guided by your recruitment knowledge and expertise.

Through the corridors you influence hiring managers and start to get the senior leadership team signing to your tune. Slowly room by room you sing the verses of ‘The Recruitment Gospel’

The Commissar

You try to go it alone and start getting active, searching for candidates and creating shortlists for hiring managers. Quickly you build on your network and gain visibility and the requests start flooding in.

Searching for candidates and getting them over to the hiring managers in the blink of an eye is your forte. But following a process and taking a holistic approach has not been something you’ve had experience of. You feel like your moving really fast but not going anywhere.

Somethings clearly not quite right. Some of your work is failing and you’re getting no feedback. The requisitions are growing faster than you can deal with. Before you know it your drowning in a sea of requests, reply’s and lists.

You’re now cutting corners more than you ever have before and it will only be a matter of time before some of your questionable conduct catches up with you. You can’t control your hiring managers and they no longer seem to be listening to you. Your once faithful followers are quickly disappearing and there are whispers from the senior leaders that there is unrest and unhappiness in the camp.

You start spending more time with the perceived enemy, the recruitment agencies and instead of reducing agency usage you’re using them even more reactively than before. Fires are being lit all over the place and you can’t see or remember what it is you believe in anymore.

You find yourself uncharacteristically throwing exploding blame apples under the seats of the hiring managers. Clearly it’s their fault recruitment is stalling and candidates are dropping out. They’ve not committed the time and they are not moving quickly enough.

There is no way it can be down to your inability to plan and to manage, engage and influence those involved. Recruitment is so simple you’ve done it for years, find candidates then place them in jobs.

Blame and suspicion starts to cloud your every waking thought, you’re clearly not being supported and everybody has it in for you. You find yourself having battles and before you know it you feel ostracised and left to the Siberian cold.

As quickly as it all started, its come to an end, the company goes through some significant change and that change has you at the heart of it.

Your romance is over, your poetry is lost and your once devout advocates are nowhere to be seen  👀

The Philosopher

Years later we look back at your perceived radical approach and start to ponder upon some of the mistakes you’ve made.

There was no plan and no strategy at all, you planed your recruitment like an agency approach. You could no longer walk away from the losers and just back the winners. You were committed to far more than you had ever considered.

There was no audit, no assessment; you didn’t seek first to understand… and therefore you’d not understood the true task at hand.

No research was conducted, no deep understanding of the candidates or the conditions of the market.

Whilst trying to radicalise and sell your ideas, you’d missed the opportunity to identify the hiring managers challenges. So when it came to managing them you had no understanding of their pressures and how best to communicate and motivate them to respond.

You became autocratic, manipulative and only interested in your view and this started to isolate you.

Rather than look to collaborate with other departments like marketing, communications and HR. You saw them as potential blockers and the enemy, so you’d boxed yourself in without any support.

Your ego or inexperience had lead you to a lonely place where your natural instincts were to reach out, rather than reach in for help, support and guidance.

Your early enthusiasm had helped you build respect, but you quickly destroyed it through lack of a planned strategy and the knee-jerk response to push the blame elsewhere.

What started out as a revolution in your career, an opportunity to transform a company, became a tragic casualty of the need to enforce what you had learned in the past; to an environment you’d not properly assessed or understood.

The Journeyman

Your past life experiences and knowledge will not give you the answers of the future. It provides you the power through communication, research, analysis, and listening, to better understand where the answers may be. It is then through working with others and creating synergy that you are able to resolve the crisis and lead a function to a better place.

Is the world against you?

If you are currently sat there and feel the environment is against you and that individuals are trying to make your life difficult, I ask you;

Have you planned accordingly?

Do you start with the end in mind?

Do you seek first to understand…?

Maybe the world is against you, and maybe your view is so correct and accurate that the rest of us mere morsels need to fall into line.

But just maybe…

Just maybe…

you need to collaborate with others and bring in those who may not understand today what it is your trying to achieve for tomorrow; because they can be the future financiers, supporters and enforces of your recruitment gospel!

Is this all too much like a fantasy for you?

The Realist

Are you ready for a more structured defined guide on how to build a recruitment strategy?

Then ensure your recruitment strategy isn’t STALIN and click here

You May Also Like…

Share This