That’s right; I said it, “The dumbing down of Staffing”. As much as we all love technology, and tools, I mean one of my monikers is “the Tool Guy”, technology and tools are dumbing us down. What I mean by that is we have a breed of staffing professional, that all they know is checking their ATS, checking the Monsters, Dices, CareerBuilder’s, etc., and that’s all.

Even a lot of our experienced professionals are relying so much on tools and technology they have forgotten how to do their job without the tools and technology. How to do their job without paying for these tools, they have forgotten the basics of staffing, part of which is thinking. Thinking about all the variables, thinking about a complete sourcing plan, and thinking outside the box. When those things run out or fail, their done. Heck as a whole I am finding a lot of staffing professionals forgetting about how we used to do things and do it for free. 

Do not get me wrong, I know tools, I use tools, but I also use what made staffing great, the old school tried and true techniques that many staffing professionals have forgotten. Things like x-raying, peeling back, ASA, Boolean, doing your research first, thinking outside the box, hunting, and so much more (I call these “the staffing building blocks” (SBB)). I recently was talking to a few staffing professionals, I started talking about some of the techniques I mentioned above, and while they heard about them, and could even perform some little simple searches using these techniques, they really did not understand how they worked or just how much you could do with them. They did not understand how you could use zip codes in google to ensure your results were from a specific geo. They did not know you could source for people in LinkedIn without having a LinkedIn account. 

Obviously I was amazed, but they explained we have tools that can do all of that for us, and do it quicker. I asked them if they had any openings they have not been able to find someone for. I got 1 person saying yes; it was a very specific, security developer with a particular background. So I said let’s all look, right now. They all used their tools, and I used the old school techniques.

When we were done we compared results, in the end I found everyone they had found and about 30% more, and while I took about 5 minutes longer, given I found significantly more, and it was free, the extra time was not an issue. We then looked at them all, I had all the ones they did, and of the 30% I found they did not, 90% were on the mark, with the other 10% were really really close.

The difference was I did my research, and was able to search places they did not, using SBB. They were amazed and what started as a simple meeting, turned into a full on training session on SBB. I even showed to their wide amazement how to find work emails for people for free, and validate they were correct for free. The reason I specify for free is there are now tools you can pay for that will do this for you, well all of it except validate it. I tested them I was as fast and that included the validation. 

Added to a dumbing down on our sourcing skills, comes a dumbing down of our research skills. I asked, and was amazed how few of the staffing professionals I was speaking to, actually did any research about what they were looking for before they started. Most all said, why waste time, when the JD says most of it, and the tools will find it all. I said really and asked a simple question, give me the words you would use to find a “java” person. All I want was the relevant words for “Java”. Pretty much all I got was Java. After having everyone do about 5 minutes of research, they found out a whole bunch of other terms they should be using. 

However this “dumbing down” is not just about sourcing or reseaching, it is about candidate engagement. These same groups of staffing professionals, pretty much do not pick up the phone, or use texting. They email, or inmail if LinkedIn, but that all. I was like really, you do not think after sending an email you might follow up with a text or call the next day? They did not understand that emails can get trapped in junk folders, or not even get there. I simply explained to them if the candidate was good enough to send an email they should be good enough to call or text and doing so would increase their response rate. Of course I explained to them not to use the standard we have a job for you, but instead get creative. 

Staying with the telephone, I asked if anyone ever tries to put together org charts for companies. They all said yes and I asked how? As I expected they all said using sites like Cogmap. I asked what they do when they get all that those sites have and they still do not have everything they need. The answer was “nothing”.

I asked why not call into these companies, why not try to use your telephone skills, combined with the info you have to see If you can get someone to tell you more? Why not use Boolean to try and find more info. The reaction was a dumb founded look of, I did not know you could or how to do that. That’s when it became obvious that “The dumbing down of Staffing” is well on its way to becoming an epidemic, one that can only be solved with training on the basics of staffing, and sourcing. 

I am not saying you do not use technology, or tools. What I am saying is overlay those tools, with the basics of staffing and sourcing. Something that a lot of staffing professionals right now do not or cannot do. The way you can use these tools, and the results you can get would dramatically increase if you understood the basics.

“The Dumbing down of Staffing” is here, and is happening, and only those who remember to use and or take the time to learn the basics will survive and truly flourish and be worthy of calling themselves “Staffing Professionals”.

Views: 225

Comment by Matt Charney on April 23, 2014 at 5:37am

Awesome post, Dean - only question about your thesis is, was there ever a time when staffing practitioners were actually smart enough to be able to be dumbed down? I only ask because in experience, there's a reason people are in this line of work, and it generally isn't because of a higher calling (or even higher education).

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on April 23, 2014 at 11:10am

@ Dean, @ Matt: Really good. I agree with the generalities, though I'd define your examples differently. What you had as "lack of intelligence" I'd describe as "ignorance," "rigidity of thought," or "lack of curiosity". Also, a vital component of bac- end recruiting closing): doesn't require intellectual depth or great speed of cognition.

Instead of a "dumbing down" of recruiting," I prefer to describe a "cheapening" of recruiting.  For a long time, I've maintained that if a client isn't prepared to pay around $50+/hr or pay a 30% fee for a given recruiting task, then they can get it done very effectively by "transourcing"  (no-sourcing, through-sourcing, or out-sourcing) it for less than U.S. minimum wage. i.e. instead of paying a secon- rate local sourcer $30/hr to find only what your group fiund, you'd pay a better offshore sourcer $7.50/hr to find more, and if that weren't sufficient, pay someone like Dean a decent amount of money to dig up the people that they can't. The problem with my premise is that most hirerers  don't need all that much of the high-value, high-touch stuff that can't be tran-sourced, and I think many of the ones that would be perfectly amenable to the lower-cost alternatives aren't aware of them, so for that reason you have many agencies who hire newbies to dial for dollars to sell candidates at 20% off the same boards and RPOs that the customer could use directly for a fraction of the cost. Then of course, there are  all those new companies looking forperky and enthusiastic sr. recruiters with 2-3 years of agency background behiund them, all filled with words like "social media" and "employment branding" and "disruptive" and "passionate".... "The horror, the horror..."



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