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There's not a lack of talent, there's a lack of creativity and forethought!

The following is an elongated version of a comment I made recently about an article which posed the question "Does talent grow on trees" and debated whether there is a talent shortage in the current marketplace.

As someone who has worked in recruitment marketing for over 20 years, I would say there has been a definite dumbing down in the messages that some people, recruiters and employers alike, put out there these days under the guise of being a job ad. In the days of press advertising for instance, the focus was very much on finding the right vehicle for a certain industry sector and/or zeroing in on a certain part of the country where you knew the people you were looking for worked, and then targeting the requisite media/areas with an alluring campaign that appealed to people's emotions - an advertising approach that made them WANT the job that was being advertised, even though they were happy in their current position because it spoke to them in a personal and enticing tone, just like other areas of advertising do - think 'cars', 'holidays', 'booze' etc. etc. It was as that time that the phrase 'passive candidates' was coined - and they were your goal.

However, over the past what, 18-20 years, as the online snowball has continued to get ever bigger as it relentlessly rolls forward, quality, creativity and focus (i.e. researching your target audience, where they live, what they read, how you might get your message in front of them and what you should say) has in many instances been replaced with a scarcely thought through scattergun approach - for example, 10 random job boards for less than £100, a quick cut & pasted job description, a clicked button and hey presto, your message is out there! Not an advertisement, not a creative vehicle for picking up quality passengers, but a dull, uninspiring, often grammatically inept and endless dirge of a message with no sell within it whatsoever.

With that in mind then, I really don't buy into the belief that there is a huge talent shortage (clearly there will be a shortfall in some industry sectors and disciplines, there always has been, but I'd wager less so in the current climate). Rather, I believe it is the huge lack of creativity, preparation and forethought that exists today that is to blame. Why? Because technology has made it so easy for anyone to fire out any old recruitment message and simply hope for the best.

In my advertising agency days, I used to work with one of the largest recruiters in the world as the Account Director on their recruitment account. I had a team of 4 working purely on that business. This client spent £1.5m a year on advertising, marketing and research. They held regular focus groups with applicants who had responded to their advertising and candidates they had placed within organisations, to find out what made them tick. Where did they look for jobs? What would they warm to in an ad and what didn't work for them etc. I'd spend a couple of hours round a boardroom table with a pile of magazines and newspapers where this client had advertised and we would discuss, in detail, what did and didn't work. It helped shape the next quarters advertising approach. A lot of that ground work however, has simply disappeared now that the bulk of job advertising is done online. In short, the importance of the message and the truly targeted approach (not just searching by age, job title and location on a generalist site like Facebook etc.) is diminished, a thing of the past.

For many modern day recruiters it's simply become a transactional numbers game. A sort of throw enough bread (cut & pasted job descriptions) on the water (the 10 random job boards I mentioned earlier) and candidates will bite mentality. And what happens? The recruiter gets 2-300 replies, but most of them are useless. It's round about then that the cry "Job boards are dying!" goes up. That's followed by the crazy notion that whilst job boards are dying, social media will somehow be the replacement, the silver bullet, the fix all solution - even though the exact same bland content will invariably be placed on there as appeared on the job boards! It's madness!

The fact is, whatever you advertise in this world, the message and the thinking and creativity behind that message, is key. It always has been and always will be. That and the right targeting. Without creativity and forethought, you'll always be left with the impression that there is a shortage of talent. The truth is though, too many have lost the art of knowing how to target and speak to that talent in an appealing way. They're not appealing to the emotions of the reader. They are simply going through the motions of cut, paste and click. And, as long as they do that, they will, provided they stay in business of course, continue to decry the job boards and be baffled by the quality of response they get.

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Tags: advertising, boards, creativity, job, jobs, media, recruiters, recruitment, shortage, social, More…talent

Comment by Ryan Leary on October 26, 2012 at 1:09pm

This quote sums it up very well: The fact is, whatever you advertise in this world, the message and the thinking and creativity behind that message, is key.

Great post. Thanks.

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